Forum, the Consumer Attorneys of California’s bimonthly magazine, discusses how engineering expertise can protect the interests of solar project owners in its latest publication. Sepi CEO Joshua Weiner, a member of the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) expert witness referral network, wrote the article.
CAOC is a 61-year-old professional association based in Sacramento. It provides support and continuing legal education for over 3,000 lawyers. CAOC members represent plaintiffs and consumers on a wide range of claims, including those involving product safety and product defects.
Weiner’s article tells the story of a growing issue for property owners who produce solar energy. After installation, these systems do not always generate the expected financial returns. Consumers then wonder if their contractors can or should be held accountable. The article describes a representative case in Southern California that Sepi handled as an expert.
When expectations go unmet
At an RV park with 434.7 kW of solar generating capacity, Sepi found a system that was producing about 93 percent of its expected energy output but only 58 percent of expected year-one cost savings. Technical performance had hit the mark. Financial performance was amiss.
Utility rate tariffs, it turns out, were both the cause and the solution.
The contractor modeled financial performance based on one of many utility rates offered by Southern California Edison (SCE). The interconnection agreement, a contract that gives permission for solar project owners to interconnect with the utility grid, specified a different rate.
A change in net energy metering, which sets out compensation and fees for solar energy supplied to the grid, led SCE to switch the utility rate once again.
Finally, Sepi analyzed SCE’s utility rates and recommended a different rate that would restore most of the lost savings.
Expertise as a service
Sepi’s engineering team provides expertise for three groups of customers: companies creating solar and energy storage projects, companies creating solar and energy storage products, and various professionals, including attorneys, who need consulting services from an industry expert.
Expert witness services are an important part of our work for attorneys, representing both plaintiffs and defense. We fulfill discovery, analysis, and fact finding for projects that result in financial loss, technical failure, or contractual claims. Areas of expertise include project development, construction agreements, energy technologies, policy, finance, codes, and industry standards.
For free access to the entire March/April edition of Forum magazine, including our article on solar expertise for conflict resolution, visit the CAOC Forum 2022 article index.
To learn more about CAOC’s expert witness referral network, go to the CAOC Vendor Directory. Select ‘Expert Witness Referral’ in the ‘Services Provided’ drop-down menu. Leave all other fields blank, and click on the Search button.